My cat's teeth need cleaning. Why does she have to be anesthetized for this?
Try to envision your beloved kitty sitting quietly in a dental chair, mouth open wide, teeth getting cleaned--can't see it? Neither can we!
Seriously, there is a huge difference in patient compliance between humans and our furry family members. Many veterinary procedures that are NOT painful require sedation simply for patient cooperation. However, the main reason your pet will be lightly anesthetized to clean her teeth is for her own safety.
The tartar on dog and cat teeth is extremely hard, like concrete. The most effective way to scale the tartar away, without damaging the tooth enamel, is with an ultrasonic scaler, which uses a fine mist of water to cool itself while it does its work. The bacteria in the pet's tartar and gingivitis mixes with the water, and forms a highly infectious aerosol which can cause respiratory infections in whoever breathes it. Since we cannot count on the pet's cooperation in holding its breath on command, we must provide a sterile oxygen source for the pet while the teeth are being cleaned. A sterile oxygen source must bypass the contaminants in and around the pet's mouth; a safe, practical and easy way is an endotracheal tube, which is placed directly into the pet's trachea after being passed through the mouth. However, because of a pet's natural gag reflex, the endotracheal tube will not be accepted unless the pet is under light anesthesia. Under light anesthesia, your cat's teeth can be thoroughly and professionally cleaned, polished, and checked for problems. Additionally, if any teeth need extraction, we can proceed with the extraction with no delay, since your pet is already anesthetized.